By Brian Murphy and Chadd Cripe
LARAMIE, Wyo. -- No. 21 Boise State's offense got hot Saturday at frigid War Memorial Stadium.
The Broncos, who had not clicked offensively this season, thumped the Wyoming Cowboys 45-14. They converted 11 of 12 third downs and didn't punt while the first-teamers were in the game.
The Broncos rushed for 214 yards and five touchdowns and threw for 223 yards.
“All year, we’ve had a good plan,” said junior quarterback Joe Southwick, who was 20-of-28 for 198 yards with an interception. “Just sometimes we were not getting it done. But we did a good job — we were clicking today.”
The Broncos (7-1 overall, 4-0 Mountain West) ran away from the Cowboys (1-7, 0-4) with three third-quarter touchdowns, highlighted by sophomore nickel Corey Bell’s 19-yard fumble return.
Defensive linemen Beau Martin and Darren Koontz sacked Wyoming sophomore quarterback Brett Smith after Bell disrupted the play with a blitz. Bell fell to his stomach during his rush, got up, scooped the football and cruised into the end zone.
“I’m just really glad and grateful for how much time our coaches put into emphasizing that we need to finish every play,” Bell said. “Everybody on that play was finishing that play. Fortunately I got to score, but it was an 11-man play.”
The Cowboys (1-7, 0-4) are now ineligible for a bowl, after going to the postseason two of the past three years. They had lost their previous three home games by a combined total of six points.
Smith was terrific early, but once the Broncos adjusted to the no-huddle, no-back system he didn’t do much. Smith finished 24-of-35 for 216 yards and rushed for touchdowns in the second and fourth quarters.
The Cowboys moved 151 yards on their first two possessions of the game. They covered 1 yard on the next five — four punts and the fumble.
“It was a tough one today in that we couldn’t get the defense off the field,” said Wyoming interim coach Pete Kaligis, who filled in for suspended coach Dave Christensen. “Boise was phenomenal on third-down conversions. We just couldn’t get the punt team on the field.”
Boise State lost cornerback Bryan Douglas (on crutches after the game), defensive tackle Greg Grimes (on crutches after the game), defensive end Kharyee Marshall and nickel Dextrell Simmons during the game. Coach Chris Petersen did not provide any details on their injuries.
Petersen said he expects suspended safety Lee Hightower and tight end Hayden Plinke to miss next week's game against San Diego State.
BSU — D.J. Harper 8 run (Michael Frisina kick), 5:22. Key plays: Harper gained 19 yards on a toss sweep and wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes rushed twice for 18 yards. Drive: 11 plays, 78 yards, 4:54. Boise State 7, Wyoming 0
UW — Brett Smith 4 run (Stuart Williams kick), 12:38. Key plays: Boise State sacked Smith on first-and-10 at the Broncos’ 24-yard line, but an offside penalty nullified the play. Smith juked defensive end Sam Ukwuachu in the open field on the TD run. Drive: 15 plays, 75 yards, 7:44. Boise State 7, Wyoming 7
BSU — Frisina 29 field goal, 6:40. Key plays: Wide receiver Matt Miller made a 24-yard catch to get to midfield and quarterback Joe Southwick kept the drive alive with a third-down completion to Kirby Moore. Southwick threw incomplete on second-and-7 and third-and-7 before the field goal. Drive: 15 plays, 63 yards, 5:58. Boise State 10, Wyoming 7
BSU — Harper 9 run (Frisina kick), 3:40. Key plays: Chris Potter returned the Cowboys’ punt 36 yards to the Wyoming 37. Three straight running plays did the rest. Drive: 3 plays, 37 yards, 1:14. Boise State 17, Wyoming 7
BSU — Williams-Rhodes 28 run (Frisina kick), 13:01. Key plays: Miller and junior wide receiver Aaron Burks started the drive with nice runs after the catch. Miller gained 12 yards; Burks picked up 18. Drive: 5 plays, 65 yards, 1:59. Boise State 24, Wyoming 7
BSU — Corey Bell 19 fumble return (Frisina kick), 10:12. Boise State 31, Wyoming 7
BSU — Grant Hedrick 1 run (Frisina kick), 2:41. Key plays: Boise State converted five third downs on the drive, including the TD. Harper gained 14 yards on second-and-17 early in the drive. Drive: 15 plays, 67 yards, 5:57. Boise State 38, Wyoming 7
UW — Smith 23 run (Williams kick), 13:02. Key play: Boise State recovered a fumble early in the drive but the play was overturned on replay. Drive: 13 plays, 77 yards, 4:39. Boise State 38, Wyoming 14
BSU — Jay Ajayi 15 run (Frisina kick), 10:07. Key plays: Dallas Burroughs returned the kickoff 43 yards. Southwick hit Geraldo Boldewijn for 9 yards on third-and-8. Drive: 6 plays, 42 yards, 2:55. Boise State 45, Wyoming 14
Boise State sophomore starting safety Lee Hightower and true freshman tight end Hayden Plinke did not make the trip to Wyoming because of unspecified team rules violations.
Redshirt freshman Darian Thompson, who had two interceptions in the first seven games as the No. 3 safety, will replace Hightower.
Reserve running back Jack Fields (injury) did not make the trip.
Third-string quarterback Jimmy Laughrea was not in uniform for the third time in four games. Coach Chris Petersen has said it’s not a disciplinary issue but that Laughrea “has a few things going on right now.”
Boise State is wearing orange pants, white jerseys and white Pro Combat helmets.